Quick-thinking bystanders keep propane truck fire at bay

SALEM – Bystanders helped the driver of a propane truck that caught fire in Salem, averting what could have been a disaster.

Centre Wellington Fire Services received a call about a propane truck on fire in Salem shortly before 5pm on Sept. 14.

Firefighters from the Elora station responded and braced themselves for a chaotic scene, but bystanders used a portable fire extinguisher to fight the fire, and that kept it from spreading to the propane tank.

They put out some of the fire “and we were able to get the rest of it out, so the fire didn’t get into the tank,” said deputy chief Jonathan Karn.

“It certainly sounded like it was going to be a lot more (fire) when dispatched. I think the actions of the driver, bystanders and the OPP held the fire back.”

Karn said the fire was in the rear axle tire area and the cause was likely mechanical.

“It could be overheated brakes. We don’t know for sure,” Karn said

He noted the truck was fully loaded with propane and if the tank caught fire, “it would have created problems for us.

“We would have had to evacuate the area. We were all very fortunate.”

OPP closed the intersection of Wellington Roads 7 and 18 for about an hour, until the fire department cleared the scene and the truck was towed away.

*This story has been updated from an earlier version that suggested the driver alone was responsible for putting out the truck fire.